Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin runs up against one of my personal pet peeves: the inability to easily get information about the upload speeds on Comcast’s various internet plans.
I’ve long known that it’s difficult to find upload speeds on Comcast’s website, but I’m not sure exactly when it became virtually impossible. There were complaints about this very problem on Comcast’s customer support forums in 2020 and in 2019, though. “What is my upload speed now? No where in the world can I find documentation,” one customer asked. The answer was that existing customers can find upload speeds for their own plan in their account settings after logging in and navigating to the correct section.
But that does not help people who are signing up for service and want to find out what upload speeds they’ll get or compare upload speeds of different plans. Even the Xfinity.com comparison tool that lets you compare details of different plans doesn’t reveal their upload speeds. The absence of upload speeds from Comcast’s website is so thorough that it is clearly a deliberate attempt to keep customers in the dark.
This annoys me to no end. In recent months, I’ve been regularly streaming to YouTube for our Total Party Kill D&D podcast, and I’ve considered increasing my Comcast plan several times to hopefully help improve the performance of those streams, but without being able to figure out the relative upload speeds, what’s the point?
It’s just another function of the de facto monopoly that most cable companies have when it comes to Internet access. Not only do they have no incentive—and, in many cases, no competition—to improve their service, they’ve also reached a point where they can simply withhold information that customers need or want to make a purchasing decision. Utterly ridiculous, and something that I’d surely love to see municipalities, states, and even the federal government do something about.
Especially given that so many more of us are conducting so much more of our live via video chat, where, surprise surprise, upload speeds play a part.